Welcome back to Consigned, Cool, & Collected, where we’re breaking from the usual format and hitting you with something akin to one of Greg Turner’s old Retro Reviews or my old 1 out of 5 reviews. We’re looking at Lot #143 from our December 26 auction session, a copy of the Public Service Announcement comic Captain America: The Return of the Asthma Monster!
PSA Comics Are A Trip
Like a great many of Marvel’s PSA comics over the decades, this one was paid for by an outside corporate sponsor. In this case, it was Allen & Hanburys, which was GlaxoSmithKline’s respiratory medicine division when the comic was published in 1989. It was distributed through doctor’s offices with an eye towards educating and de-stigmatizing asthma for children.
This comic is actually Captain America’s SECOND battle with the Asthma Monster. His first, released in 1987, involved the Monster terrorizing a small town with asthma-simulating gasses. A pair of plucky children, who summon Cap to their town using his then-active hotline, find these can be counteracted by normal asthma meds and help the Sentinel of Liberty counteract the effects of the gases long enough to confront the Monster. It is revealed that the Asthma Monster is a man in a rubber suit who is resentful over a childhood spent missing out on activities due to his own asthma, wanting the rest of the world to suffer like he did. Cap arrests the fellow, the townsfolk are issued inhalers, and the day is saved.
This issue sees the Asthma Monster being broken out of prison by the demonic imps of the Allergen Gang. Captain America goes to his young friends to protect them from any attempts at revenge, helping them educate their friend on asthma and help his mom get him medicated while they wait for the baddy to show. Cap then escorts the kids home, where they are immediately attacked by the Asthma Monster and the Allergen Gang.
Here Comes The Science
Luckily, Cap & the kids are ready with their inhalers, which renders both the Monster and the Gang completely powerless over them. They proceed to scour the house for the hiding villains, educating readers on the allergens and asthma triggers that can be found in the home as they do so. The Allergen Gang is quickly dispelled, conveniently using the same techniques one uses to rid their house of asthma triggers, and Cap decks the Asthma Monster hard enough to shatter his mask and Aller-Gun.
It is revealed that the Asthma Monster costume filtered the air and allowed the man wearing it to breathe easily. The children’s doctor (who showed up to help with the Allergen Gang) explains that an inhaler could take the place of the super-villainy. The epilogues features the doctor introducing Captain America and the kids to Daniel Tyler, the reformed Asthma Monster turned children’s swim coach.
Marvel’s PSA comics are pretty well all cheesy, like a 22 page Hostess Fruit Pie ad with more exposition . They’re the kind of stuff that eventually got thrown away by parents, kids, and collectors alike but this one sold for $22.50 – not big bucks, but definitely worth your time to have evaluated. And if you’ve got a sense of humor like mine, they’re definitely worth a read. Either way, they’re an item worthy of being Consigned, Cool, & Collected.